Kelly McCrimmon is set to take over the reins of the National Hockey League’s Vegas Golden Knights effective September 1, 2019.
The Brandon Wheat Kings owner and three-time winner of the Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy as WHL Executive of the Year was announced as the NHL team’s second general manager in franchise history Thursday.
From Plenty, Sask., McCrimmon played for the Wheat Kings for two seasons spanning from 1978 to 1980, helping the team win their first-ever WHL Championship in 1979. In 95 WHL regular season games, McCrimmon tallied 64 points (28G-36A). He’d also record 13 points (3G-10A) in 27 games for his WHL Playoffs career.
After his playing career ended, McCrimmon stepped behind the bench with the North Battleford North Stars in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League before taking on an assistant coaching role with the Wheat Kings ahead of the 1988-89 WHL Regular Season.
By next season, McCrimmon had taken over the duties as Head Coach and General Manager with the WHL club, beginning a 27-season run where he served in either or both roles. In 1993, McCrimmon became a minority owner of the team and eventually became the sole owner by 2001
During his time with Brandon, the Wheat Kings experienced unprecedented success. The team has made the WHL Playoffs in 24 of the 31 seasons, bringing the WHL Championship to Manitoba in 1996 and 2016. They’ve made it to the WHL Championship Series four other times, totaling 161 victories in the WHL Playoffs since 1993.
McCrimmon also played a strong part in the Wheaties winning 10 division titles from the 1994-95 WHL Regular Season to the 2015-16 WHL Regular Season. McCrimmon was named the WHL Executive of the Year in 1995, 2005, and 2015, also capturing the award at the CHL level in 1995.
The Wheat Kings have participated in the Memorial Cup four times under McCrimmon’s tenure, gaining admittance as the WHL Championship runner-up in 1995 and hosting the tournament in 2010.
Gaining a reputation for properly developing players for future careers in professional hockey, the Wheat Kings have played a strong part in seeing Manitoban talent realize their dream of playing in the National Hockey League.
The long list of Manitobans to make the jump from the WHL’s Wheat Kings to the NHL include Mark Stone, Nolan Patrick, Matt Calvert, Trevor Kidd, Travis Hamonic, Ryan Pulock, Ryan Reaves, and Jordin Tootoo who all played under McCrimmon in some format during those years. Stone and Reaves currently play with the Golden Knights.
Also on the rise in the professional hockey ranks from the McCrimmon era are the likes of Stelio Mattheos, Tanner Kaspick, and Ty Lewis among soon to be many others.